Gretchen Albrecht: Returning

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Media Release: November, 2005. 

In 1981, Gretchen Albrecht produced the first of the works that she has since become renowned for – colour-saturated shaped canvases, paintings that sing and glow and smoulder. Over the past three decades, Gretchen Albrecht has developed one of the most widely recognised personal styles in New Zealand painting, and firmly established herself amongst our leading artists.

This exhibition traces the evolution of Albrecht’s two signature forms, her hemisphere (half-circle) and oval shaped canvases, since she began experimenting with shaped canvases during her time as the Frances Hodgkins Fellow at the University of Otago. Gretchen Albrecht: Returning is a touring exhibition from the Dunedin Public Art Gallery, presented by City Gallery Wellington with the support of Telecom.

Albrecht once described these works as “a shape to contain a feeling”. Resonant combinations of colour and geometry, her paintings are poetic images that allude to the landscape, family, faith, literature, poetry and the cosmos. Returning includes a series of paintings in which Albrecht memorialises the life and spirit of her late father Reuben: beautiful and sombre works in muted shades of black, white and grey.

Other works in Returning also demonstrate Albrecht’s widely acknowledged mastery of colour: paintings such as Bright Mantled Ocean and ‘Pohutukawa (summer)’ capture both the characteristic vibrancy and richness of Albrecht’s colour, and the way that her works often refer to nature and landscape. 

City Gallery Wellington Director Paula Savage says: “It’s with particular pleasure that City Gallery Wellington presents this collection of work by one of New Zealand’s most accomplished and respected artists, Gretchen Albrecht. Albrecht’s paintings evoke the full spectrum of human experience and emotion, and they are a true reflection of a richly lived life. It is also with pleasure that we acknowledge the support of Telecom in the presentation of this exhibition. Visitors are sure to find Gretchen Albrecht: Returning not only a sumptuous visual experience, but an extraordinarily moving one.”

Gretchen Albrecht has exhibited in New Zealand and internationally for more than 35 years. Born in Auckland in 1943 she graduated from the Auckland University School of Fine Arts in 1963. Her work has been shown in many important exhibitions, including Seven Painters/The Eighties (1982), Distance Looks Our Way – 10 Artists from New Zealand (1993), and Telecom Prospect 2001: New Art New Zealand (2001). In recent years Albrecht has shown in both Europe and the USA, including the exhibition Decades at Robert Steele Gallery, New York. A major survey exhibition of her work, Illuminations, was held at the Auckland Art Gallery in 2002.

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GRETCHEN ALBRECHT: RETURNING

City Gallery Wellington

13 November 2005 – 6 February 2006

A Dunedin Public Art Gallery touring exhibition

Principal Sponsor: Telecom NZ Ltd